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"the kingdom of heaven belongs to little children."

The High Calling of Children’s Ministry

The longer I live, the more convinced I am that children’s ministry is where it’s at.

And yet, the more I see of the church, the more I feel like we are missing that truth. Like Jesus’s disciples, we’re kind of subtly pushing the children off to the sidelines. Worship, shepherding, teaching adults . . . all these have an allure about them, and there’s usually no shortage of those ready to share their gifts in these areas. But getting volunteers eager to care for babies in the nursery, or committed to discipling four year olds, for some reason is a little tougher. More often than not, this humble work falls to some random ladies as leftovers after all the other high-profile spots have been filled.

But why?

“Jesus called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, ‘Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven’ “ (Matthew 18:2-4).

Who is more tuned in to the things of the Spirit than a child? Who is more impressionable and able to receive than a child? And who has the capacity for great faith like a child?

“It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation” (Romans 15:20).

The Apostle Paul’s highest goal was to bring the gospel to where a foundation had not yet been laid. I have always thought in the western world where most people have heard of Christ, children represent that fresh foundation. A building can only be as strong as the foundation on which it has been laid. And many people who have been professing Christians for years have faults in their foundations that have led to troubles in their walk with the Lord–and indeed their life in general. But the minds and spirits of children are fresh and malleable.

Bible stories, memory verses, and impartation of wisdom from my Sunday school and Good News Club teachers, all of them older ladies, have stayed with me over the years. Now, having children of my own, there is no one who prophesies to me more regularly than they, whether they are conscious of the fact that they’re speaking God’s truths to my heart or not. And it is my six year old whom I ask to lay hands on people for healing, including myself, if I wish to see instant results.

Jesus was indignant when the children who were brought to be blessed by Him were scorned by His followers. He said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 19:14). The kingdom of heaven belongs to kids! The supernatural is for children, for today! The transforming love of God and the working of miracles and prophecy and healing . . . it is theirs! The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is at work in my preschooler! Are we hindering them from approaching Jesus because of our own fleshly way of seeing things?

A friend of mine who frequently travels internationally to minister shared with me that God told him how difficult it is to get any of His prophets to go minister to children. And so my friend travels to various second and third world countries and feeds outcast children–the homeless ones living on their own. After he cares for their physical needs, he prays over them one by one, and prophesies destiny over each of them. This same friend and his wife have also taken in very difficult foster children here in the States, the ones most difficult to place.

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Corinthians 1:29).

Children are vulnerable and often regarded as lowly by the world. Yet to and through them the kingdom of heaven manifests.

Not all of us may be called to children’s ministry in a formal capacity. But all of us can choose kingdom mindsets in regards to the children whose paths cross ours. We can take notice of children when we see them, show an interest in their lives, and speak life and destiny over them. For such is the kingdom of heaven.

What child will you reach out to and minister today? How have you seen the power of the gospel manifested through children?

About Emily Tomko

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Emily Tomko's radical encounter with the Lord while at a nightclub changed her life forever and inspired her first novel, College Bound: A Pursuit of Freedom. She is the author of seven books, including 31 Thoughts on Prophecy and Leaving the Shallows: igniting the faith that overcomes the world. Her tastes tend toward vintage and she's a Germanophile, having spent a year in Bremen and Nuremberg. Emily loves the scriptures and writes with fierce compassion and a deep desire to see people freed from the miry clay of this world and walking in the truth.

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